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Minishoot’ Adventures review – Zelda in a spaceship

Minishoot’ Adventures review – Zelda in a spaceship
Minishoot’ Adventures – The Legend of Tiny Spaceship (Picture: SoulGame Studio)

Mixing Legend Of Zelda style exploration with bullet hell shooter action sounds like a terrible idea but this indie gem proves otherwise.

The Legend Of Zelda is set in a fantasy world but it’s very loosely drawn, with plenty of sci-fi elements mixed in whenever the fancy takes Nintendo’s designers; even Majora’s Mask had a bizarre side quest with cow-kidnapping aliens. Minishoot’ Adventures isn’t exactly a Zelda clone but the best way to describe it is as a mix between Nintendo’s lauded franchise and a twin-stick, bullet hell 2D shooter. That sounds like chalk and cheese, but it works out surprisingly well.

The top-down viewpoint is certainly reminiscent of Link’s early adventures, but the game is much more action-based than most actual Zelda games. You control a cute looking spaceship on a thinly sketched mission to defeat the Unchosen One. There is plenty of exploration involved though, as you jet across the alien landscape, searching for hidden upgrades and slowly accruing an armoury of useful gadgetry.

Mashing together two completely unrelated genres can be hit and miss, which means it’s often difficult to tell whether it was the idea or the execution which was most at fault. But Minishoot’ Adventures proves that oil and water can blend together perfectly well as long both elements are treated with equal respect.

Despite what the visuals might suggest, Minishoot’ Adventures takes quite some influence from Breath Of The Wild and its successor, in that you’re free to go wherever you want in the open world at any time (as long as you can get there). Bosses are clearly marked on the map and it’s entirely up to you when you set off to face them. You can do so straight away, but the wisest strategy is to explore elsewhere first, acquiring upgrades and levelling up.

It’s always surprising how few games try to copy the Zelda formula directly, instead of more generally in terms of just being a Metroidvania, but Minishoot’ Adventures follows the template quite closely. This includes dungeons and while the emphasis remains on combat more than puzzles, there’s still lots of keys to collect and mazes to navigate. Although oddly there’s no map, with even the overworld one being mostly useless.

Completing a dungeon invariably rewards you with a new ability, that in turn enables you to access new areas or take on previously impossible enemies. The first one is a boost ability, that allows you to jump over gaps, while another allows you to slow down time – which is useful both in and out of combat.

Defeated enemies will drop gems, until you fill up a meter and get a point to spend on an expansive skill tree, that allows you to gradually improve things like fire rate, laser power, and speed. Meanwhile, rarer red crystals are used to buy new items and upgrades from other friendly spaceships.

The obvious problem with Minishoot’ Adventures’ approach (other than the errant apostrophe in its name, which is really bugging us) is that there’s not much characterisation. There are no wacky Zelda style characters to interact with and while neither game has much of a story the fact that you’re just controlling a little cartoon spaceship, shooting other faceless enemies, doesn’t leave much to hang on to emotionally.

Minishoot’ Adventures – you should try to avoid all that (Picture: SoulGame Studio)

On the upside, Minishoot’ Adventures is a genuinely great dual-stick shooter. The movement of the ship and the ferocity of the weapons feels great, while the enemies and their attacks are all perfectly orchestrated. The appeal of bullet hell shooters is that while they look impossible to an outside observer, as they fill the screen with seemingly impossible to avoid projectiles, they’re really no more difficult than a normal shooter if you keep your nerve, learn the patterns, and take advantage of every opening.

And if you don’t believe us the game has plenty of difficulty settings and options, including an auto-fire mode and the ability to slow down the game speed, which makes it surprisingly accessible. Turn on infinite health and it’s essentially impossible to lose.

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Visually, the game is obviously low-tech but the painted art style is unusual and the amount of bullets pulsating around on-screen genuinely impressive at times. The soundtrack is also great, remaining relatively mellow when exploring but ramping up to an enjoyable crescendo when the action gets more intense.

As far as we can tell there’s currently no word on a console version, which seems surprising as its default controls use a joypad. To be fair, the game is apparently the work of just two people, but hopefully this will prove successful enough on PC that additional versions will arrive sooner rather than later. Despite being a genre mash-up, and clearly very low budget, this is one of the best Zelda style games, that has nothing to do with Nintendo, for several years.

Minishoot' Adventures review summary In Short: A successful blend of Zelda and twin-stick bullet hell shooter, which sounds like a terrible mix but brings some welcome novelty to both styles of play.
Pros: The bullet hell action is great and while there’s less complex puzzles than a typical Zelda the exploration is consistently rewarding. Great soundtrack and excellent boss battles.
Cons: The map is not the most helpful and there isn’t even a sperate one for dungeons. The lack of organic characters and perfunctory storytelling is slightly alienating.
Score: 8/10

Formats: PC Price: £12.79 Publisher: IndieArk and SoulGame Studio Developer: SoulGame Studio Release Date: 2nd April 2024 Age Rating: N/A

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